We've all gotten pretty comfortable with the idea that we live on a big planet, with lots of spaces and places left to explore and challenge the senses with. We know the size, length, diameter and even weight of our planet. We know everything yet, when put face to face with the great outdoors, there's always this -Well I knew it was big but - this is colossal!. And just because of this, we're so connected yet so far apart. The story you're about to read takes place in one of the farthest parts from the Old Continent, yet so close through cultural and historical identity.
Australia. When you say it, you think Kangaroos, Warn and the Queen. You think safari trails and wildlife watching. Here, in the dusty outback, every year, there takes place an event of epic proportions, difficulty and reward. This event is known, to those who raced it, as the Australasian Safari.
The 2010 edition of the race presented the 100 competitors with a grueling 3600 kilometers journey through the Western part of Australia. With the official start at Hillarys Boat Harbor, the eight days competition ended on the Southern coast. It attracts some of the biggest name in the branch, with V8 Supercar Champ Craig Lowndes competing for the first time off the beaten path. Why? Because the track took competitors through a large variety of terrain types, from historic goldfields to rugged bush and coastal dunes. It might also be worth adding that racers came from as far as Sweden and Japan to take part.
Following the ceremonial start at the Harbor, they began their journey on the Prologue section of the track, traveling 370 kilometers to Southern Cross. Also known as Wildflower Country, the land of the first stop set the stage for the race. From there on, the first leg of the race led the teams to the town of Leonora. This year, the town was a stop in the race's path for the third consecutive time, welcoming back the adventure spirit and unbelievable cars. The race was tight, with leader boards changing and being constantly updated. With 40% drop-out rate on this year's edition, the races reputation as an extreme event was again proved to both men and their machines.
In 2009, there was the introduction of Marathon Days challenged both man and machine. In 2010, the organizers again put this challenge forward. Marathon Days refer to those days in which competition stages are between 250 and 500 kilometers in length, with only refueling permitted.
From Leonora, the teams left for Coolgardie, which was once the third largest town in Western Austraila, at the height of the gold rush. After a quick stop, al racers headed towards Norseman, enjoying two nights of stopping in the town that was named after a horse who discovered gold in the 1894. Just goes to show that Australians are indeed more fun than most other people.
The last leg of the competition led everyone towards Esperance. The town is situated on the Southern coast of the Continent and is well known for its huge stretches of white sand beaches. This was the perfect setting for a difficult finish stage of the race.
Needless to say that nor images nor text can convey the thrill of being there, the feeling of the parked trucks or the exquisite Australian atmosphere. So, just to get an idea of how and what went down during the event- Statistics!
Equipment traveling with the event includes:
o 2 Planes
o 1 Helicopter
o 2 Satellite dishes
o 51 Satellite phones
o 72 Radios
o 7 generators
o 2 Semi trailers (toilets and showers)
o 1 9 tonne equipment truck
o 4 Motorhomes (HQ, Media Centre, Results and Safari Base)
o 1 medical equipment truck
o 7 FIVs (First Intervention Vehicles)
o And two large inflatable arches
o More than 8000 meals prepared
o Approximately 70 formal land use approvals required
o 20 person medical crew
o 85 event officials
o 5 representatives from the Motorsport Authorities
o About 450 people traveling with the event - support crew, family and friends
o TV Production Crew
o 8 General Media
o 3 Photographers
o 2 Policemen
Australasian Safari celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, during which time it gained the name of the Dakar of the Southern Hemisphere. In its inception in 1985, the Australasian Safari was set in the outback of the Northern Territory. Later the event moved to New South Wales, incorporating the famous Mt Panorama Circuit in Bathurst. In 2007, the Australasian Safari moved to its new home in Western Australia.
Images courtesy of the Australasian Safari Organization Team